It’s easy to take sleep advice at face value. When suffering from insomnia, most will do anything and everything we can to get a good night’s sleep … your body is begging for it. So, when a well-meaning auntie or know-it-all neighbor has a trick that will magically fix your sleep deprivation, you listen!
Some sleep myths are less convincing than others. Cheese causes nightmares. Drinking warm milk will help you sleep. Oh, and here’s a mattress-industry favorite: it’s illegal to cut off your mattress tag. (Spoiler alert: it isn’t illegal, but it could void your mattress’s warranty!)
But other myths seem to make more sense. We all know we need more sleep. But, are we doing our best to get it? If you still subscribe to these outdated sleep myths, you may be your own worst enemy when it comes to getting the sleep you need.
How Much Sleep Do Adults Need ... Really?
Everyone’s heard that humans need eight hours of sleep a night. But what most people don’t know is that this is actually a myth … and it’s only sometimes true! Like everything else in life, the amount of sleep a human needs isn’t one-size-fits-all.
For healthy adults, 7-9 hours of sleep is usually the right amount of sleep. But this number varies at different stages of life. Here are some general numbers:
- Infants: 14-17 hours
- Toddlers: 11–14 hours
- Young children: 9–11 hours
- Teens: 8–10 hours
- Adults: 7–9 hours
- Older adults: 7–8 hours
6 Sleep Myths to Put to Bed Now
In the quest for a good night’s sleep, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Here are some common myths that might be leading you astray.
1. You Can Train Your Body to Need Less Sleep
As much as we may we could, our brains and bodies just can’t get used to getting less sleep. You may find that after a few weeks or even months of sleep deprivation, your daytime drowsiness subsides. However, this doesn’t mean that your body is adjusting to sleeping less.
You might feel well rested, but without a full night’s sleep your decision-making, memory, ability to focus and creativity all suffer. Beyond mental ability, insufficient sleep can harm your metabolism, cardiovascular system, immune system, hormone regulation and more. (Not to mention your mental health!) You can’t cheat sleep – your body needs it.
2. A Firm Mattress Is Always Better
Like we said earlier, sleep isn’t one-size-fits-all … and neither are mattresses! While many believe that a firm mattress is always better, this isn’t the case.
Often, people who sleep on their backs and their stomachs will prefer a firm mattress, because a firm mattress provides a more even and stable surface. On the other hand, side sleepers tend to prefer a softer mattress to properly cushion their shoulders and hips. Heavier-set individuals might prefer a firmer mattress, while lighter individuals will usually gravitate towards a softer mattress.
And at the end of the day, you like what you like! If you like the feel a firmer mattress, then a firmer mattress is probably best for you. Learn more about mattress firmness here.
Of course, we have to point out – if you and your sleep partner have different mattress firmness preferences, Naturepedic can help. We have a 100% certified organic customizable mattress that allows you each to choose. So there’s no reason to get stuck on this myth!
3. Napping Makes up for a Lack of Sleep
A power nap is kind of like putting air in a leaky tire. It’ll help get you through the day, but it won’t fix the root problem. Napping can provide a boost of energy but doesn’t make up for quality sleep at night. This is because you don’t go through all the stages of your sleep cycle in a nap – you’re not getting the quality, restorative REM sleep that you need.
Not to mention that consistent napping can end up throwing your sleep schedule out-of-whack, disrupting your circadian rhythm and making it harder to fall asleep at bedtime. Long naps can also mean sleep inertia, or waking up disoriented and sluggish.
Napping isn’t your enemy. But regularly relying on naps to combat sleep deprivation just doesn’t work. If you need a boost, keep it shorter than 30 minutes, keep it early in the day and try to get a better night’s sleep that night.
4. You Want a Mattress That Sleeps Cool
Many conventional mattress manufacturers will advertise a mattress that “sleeps cool.” It’s a nice thought, but is it necessary? The answer is, you guessed it, no! Why? Because your body is designed to naturally sleep cool.
If you’re a hot sleeper, there could be a health-related explanation. Diabetes, anxiety, thyroid problems and more can contribute to sleeping hot. But this isn’t always the case. Often, the problem could be your mattress!
Conventional mattresses often use petroleum-based materials like polyurethane foam that actually trap heat. Bells and whistles like cooling gels, beads and toppers sound nice, but doesn’t it make more sense to avoid the materials that are causing the problem in the first place, instead? You don’t need a cooling mattress to sleep cool – avoid sleeping on materials that don’t breathe and are notorious for making people hot and sweaty in the first place!
5. Alcohol Helps You Sleep
Alcohol helps you sleep … right? Wrong! While a drink or two can be relaxing and even make drowsy, that’s where the benefits end. While falling asleep might seem easier after a drink, the quality of sleep you actually get considerably declines after drinking. Alcohol can lead to sleep-disrupting anxiety, throw off your circadian rhythm, and worsen sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.
A drink before bed now and then won’t cause long-term sleep disruption. But if you want to practice proper sleep hygiene, eliminating alcohol from your bedtime routine is an important measure.
6. More Sleep is Always Better
Ever heard the adage, “Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing?” It’s true for sleep, too. Oversleeping is linked to a host of medical problems, including:
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Back pain
- Heart disease
Different people need different amounts of sleep, but like we said earlier, 7-9 hours is generally the right range for healthy adults. Listen to your body. And if you feel like you consistently need over nine hours of sleep a night, it might be time to talk to your doctor.
A Few Sleep Ideas You DO Want to Believe
Not all sleep advice is bad. It’s good to practice proper sleep hygiene – putting yourself in the best position to sleep well each and every night. Good sleep hygiene can include practices such as:
- Establishing a bedtime routine
- Keeping your bedroom cool and dark
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine
- Avoiding blue light before bedtime
- Eating properly
- Keeping active
It’s also true that your mattress plays a huge role in the quality and duration of sleep you get. At Naturepedic, we never underestimate the effect that a quality mattress has on quality sleep. Whether that means a mattress that is tailored to your specific firmness preferences or a mattress that honors your health by keeping harmful chemicals out of your sleep environment, our lineup of certified organic mattresses promotes safer, healthier sleep.